Species, demes, and the omega taxonomy: Gilmour and the newsystematics [Book Review]

Biology and Philosophy 15 (3):349-388 (2000)
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The word ``deme'' was coined by the botanists J.S.L. Gilmour and J.W.Gregor in 1939, following the pattern of J.S. Huxley's ``cline''. Its purposewas not only to rationalize the plethora of terms describing chromosomaland genetic variation, but also to reduce hostility between traditionaltaxonomists and researchers on evolution, who sometimes scorned eachother's understanding of species. A multi-layered system of compoundterms based on deme was published by Gilmour and J. Heslop-Harrison in1954 but not widely used. Deme was adopted with a modified meaning byzoologists leading the evolutionary synthesis – Huxley, Simpson, Wright,and Mayr. Connections are shown between Gilmour's ideas around definingthe deme, his role in founding the Systematics Association, and his chapter``Taxonomy and Philosophy'' in the book The New Systematics. Thishistorical episode raises questions about the role of carefully-definedwords in scientific practice



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Citations of this work

The Creation of the Essentialism Story: An Exercise in Metahistory.Mary P. Winsor - 2006 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 28 (2):149 - 174.
Rethinking the Synthesis Period in Evolutionary Studies.Joe Cain - 2009 - Journal of the History of Biology 42 (4):621 - 648.
Cain on Linnaeus: the scientist-historian as unanalysed entity.Mary P. Winsor - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 32 (2):239-254.

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